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Tag: technology

FBI Tries to Become Hip to Attract Elite Coders to Crack Down on Cyberattacks

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of the FBI’s biggest challenges is hackers who are targeting political and financial groups and personal computers.

To combat cyberattacks, the FBI is looking for elite coders who have the technology background to help.

“One problem? A culture clash between elite coders who are attracted to casual — or even rebellious workplaces — and the agency’s bureaucratic reputation,” the Washington Post reports. 

FBI Director James Comey is trying to make the agency hip enough to attract recruits.

“We’re working very hard inside the FBI to be a whole lot cooler than you may think we are,” he said during his remarks at a Symantec Government Symposium last week.

That doesn’t mean the FBI has added “beanbags and granola and a lot of whiteboards,” Comey said.

“But we’re working very hard at marching in that direction, so that when this talent comes into our organization we are open to having them make us better — in a way that connects us and them to our mission more closely,” he said.

The Washington Post wrote:

Despite outreach at high profile hacker conferences like Black Hat and DefCon, recruitment of tech whiz kids by law enforcement and intelligence agencies has been hampered in recent years. One issue is that they have to compete with private sector gigs that can offer better salaries and benefits.

But fallout over surveillance programs revealed in Snowden documents and the FBI’s legal battle to get Apple to help it break into a locked iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, Calif., attacks has also made government work a hard sell to some.

Developer of Anonymous Tor Software Leaves Country to Avoid FBI

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of Tor’s core software developers has left the United States because she doesn’t want to expose users to potential spying.

CNN reports that the FBI wants Isis Agora Lovecruft to testify in a criminal hacking investigation.

But fearing she’ll be coerced to undermine Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their locations, she left the U.S. for Germany.

“I was worried they’d ask me to do something that hurts innocent people — and prevent me from telling people it’s happening,” she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney.

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI Actually Paid Less Than $1.3M to Unlock San Bernardino iPhone

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Despite a suggestion from FBI Director James Comey that it cost the FBI about $1.3 million to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the price tag was a lot more inexpensive.

Business Insider report that the FBI paid under $1 million for the technology to unlock the phone.

Investigators won’t need to pay extra money to use the technology to open other iPhone 5C models running on iOS9.

The FBI paid a contractor to bypass the phone’s encryption features.

FBI Director Says Bureau ‘Purchased a Tool’ to Unlock iPhone

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “purchased a tool” to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Comey, who made the disclosure during a speech at Ohio’s Kenyon College, didn’t elaborate on the technology.

“The people that we bought this [tool] from – I know a fair amount about them and I have a high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it, and their motivations align with ours,” Comey said during a question-and-answer period following his talk, Fox News reports. 

The FBI is expected to share details with some members of Congress.

Comey said the technology only works on an iPhone 5C.

“This doesn’t work on [an iPhone] 6S, doesn’t work in a 5S, and so we have a tool that works on a narrow slice of phones,” he added.

WhatsApp Poised to Become Subject of Next Justice Department Encryption Showdown

WhatsApp

WhatsApp

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple isn’t the only tech company fighting the FBI over privacy concerns.

The FBI is in court with WhatsApp, which allows users to send messages and make phone calls over the Internet, the New York Times reports.

The world’s largest mobile messaging service has added encryption that makes it impossible for the Justice Department to access, even when a judge orders a wiretap.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and the Justice Department declined to comment because the case is under seal. But it does not involve terrorism.

The Times wrote:

To understand the battle lines, consider this imperfect analogy from the predigital world: If the Apple dispute is akin to whether the F.B.I. can unlock your front door and search your house, the issue with WhatsApp is whether it can listen to your phone calls. In the era of encryption, neither question has a clear answer.

Guardian Columnist: Calm Down, FBI. The Web Won’t Go Dark Anytime Soon

Apple logoJohn Naughton
Guardian

The Apple v FBI standoff continues to generate more heat than light, with both sides putting their case to “the court of public opinion” — which, in this case, is at best premature and at worst daft. Apple has just responded to the court injunction obliging it to help the government unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino killers with a barrage of legal arguments involving the first and fifth amendments to the US constitution. Because the law in the case is unclear (there seems to be only one recent plausible precedent and that dates from 1977), I can see the argument going all the way to the supreme court. Which is where it properly belongs, because what is at issue is a really big question: how much encryption should private companies (and individuals) be allowed to deploy in a networked world?

In the meantime, we are left with posturing by the two camps, both of which are being selective with the actualité, as Alan Clark might have said. Apple is staking a claim to the high moral ground: this is not just about one phone, it says, but about the security and privacy of millions of citizens everywhere. Agreeing to the FBI’s request to write a special version of the phone’s operating system that would disable its in-built blocking mechanism against automated password guessing would set a very dangerous precedent that governments everywhere would exploit. True, especially in China, where, coincidentally, Apple sells more iPhones than it does in the US.

The FBI, for its part, is trying a two-pronged approach. One is the soothing tone: don’t worry about a precedent, they say, we just want to get the data off this one phone. The FBI should tell that to the marines, or at any rate to prosecutors all over the US who have iPhones that they want Apple to unlock. The Manhattan district attorney, to name just one, has 175 of the darned things. So if Apple is forced to concede in the end, it’ll find a long queue at its door.

The other part of the FBI strategy is also to stake a claim to the high moral ground. James Comey, its director, has been sounding off for ages that cyberspace is “going dark” (ie invisible to law enforcement) because of encryption and that this is intolerable. Over here, the same line has been energetically peddled by David Cameron. “In extremis,” he said recently, “it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s call, to mobile communications… The question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications where it simply is not possible to do that? My answer to that question is: no, we must not.”

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Verizon Sides with Apple in Fight with FBI Over Unlocking Cell Phone

VerizonBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The nation’s largest mobile carrier, Verizon Wireless, is siding with Apple in its fight against the FBI over unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters, The Verge reports. 

“Verizon is committed to protecting customer privacy and one of the tools for protecting that privacy is encryption,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said.

The CEO said Verizon supports “availability of strong encryption with no back doors.”

McAdam joined Apple’s Tim Cook in calling for Congress to arrive at a resolution so that the case isn’t decided by a single judge.

“The case with Apple presents unique issues that should be addressed by Congress, not on an ad-hoc basis,” McAdam said.

Verizon’s position has surprised some because the company helped the NSA with mass surveillance and bulk data-collection programs.

Protesters Plan to Stage Demonstrations in Support of Apple’s Fight with the FBI

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Protesters across the nation plan to stage demonstrations today to support Apple’s fight against the FBI’s attempt to force the company to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Fight for the Future, a group that has organized demonstration on other tech issues, is organizing the protest, the Los Angeles times reports. 

Among the protest locations are San Francisco, Los Angeles and the FBI headquarters in Washington.

Protesters plan to carry banners reading, “FBI: Don’t Break Our Phones” and Secure Phones Save Lives.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook sent a letter to employees on Monday, saying “The case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

Other tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook, have expressed support for Apple. On Monday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took sides with the FBI.